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The Case of the Hillside Stranglers Reviews

Reviewed By: Donald Guarisco

This made-for-television serial killer saga is modest yet effective stuff. The script lays out the facts of the "Hillside Stranglers" case in a precise, no-frills style. The subplot dealing with the main detective's home life is a tad formulaic but the film's disciplined plotting keeps things rolling forward in a compelling style. The proceedings benefit from brisk direction by television vet Steve Gethers, who communicates the horror of the crimes effectively without ever allowing the onscreen events to become sleazy or distasteful. However, the best element of The Case Of The Hillside Stranglers is the trio of effective performances that anchor the story. Richard Crenna is instantly convincing as the beleaguered detective hero and brings a nice sense of gravitas to his role. As the killers, Dennis Farina twists his natural streetwise charisma to menacing effect as Angelo Buono and Billy Zane absolutely nails the pretty-boy narcissism of Kenneth Bianchi. In short, The Case Of The Hillside Stranglers is an effective programmer for true crime fans. It might never hit the heights of more acclaimed television true-crime fare like The Deliberate Stranger or Helter Skelter but it gets the job done in a skillful manner.